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leabhair --- a book journal

Recently Read

a collection of books

Just a way for me to better keep a record of the books I've read!



December 31st, 2007

The Big List, 2007.

constant update

01. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
02. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
03. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
04. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
05. Settlers of the Marsh by Frederick Philip Grove
06. Forever by Judy Blume
07. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
08. The Birth House by Ami Mckay
09. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
10. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
11. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
12. Don't Cry Now by Joy Fielding
13. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom (Sept 11th)
14. Playground by Jennifer Saginor (Sept 13th)
15. Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (Oct 14th)
16. Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace by David Adams Richards (October 19th)

September 10th, 2007

Don't Cry Now by Joy Fielding, 400 pages

Bonnie is happily married, lives in the suburbs, and is comfortable in her life, until her husband’s ex-wife is shot and she becomes both a suspect and a potential victim in a deadly game which threatens both her life and her daughter. Enjoy a tense, riveting plot which is packed with tension and suspense.

Um, yeah. This is so far off from books I normally choose to read. I got this book from the shelves in one of the complexes I clean in. (Thrift shopping where you don't have to pay!) For some reason I was in the mood to read it & it obviously kept me entertained, but it was extremely far fetched & even a bit silly in parts. I was interested enough to find out "who done it", but was left slightly disappointed in the hurried ending.

Finished: September 10th, 2007.

September 5th, 2007

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks, 288 pages

There are few things Jeremy Marsh was sure hed never do: hed never leave New York City; never give his heart away again after barely surviving one failed marriage; and most of all, never become a parent. Now, Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, married to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the birth of their daughter. But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, an unsettling and mysterious message re-opens old wounds and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the course of this young couples marriage.

So, this is part two of a love story (True Believer), which I didn't read & which didn't matter to me. After reading The Notebook & realising how quick & easy it was, I figured I'd get my only other Sparks novel over & done with. It was okay, but you have to wonder how something like this can be a popular or best seller. It was a simple, cliched story anyone on earth could have written. I don't know. I just didn't get it. Oh well. Its done with & I guess if you are into short & "tearful" love stories, you just might like it. Hmmmm.

Finished: end of August
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, 272 pages

Written in the opaque language of a fable, the novel opens in a nursing home as 80-year-old Noah Calhoun, "a common man with common thoughts," reads a love story from a notebook; it is his own story. In 1946, Noah, newly returned from the war, is trying to forget a long-ago summer romance with Allie Nelson, the daughter of a powerful businessman. Allie, soon to be married, feels compelled to track Noah down. One steamed-crab dinner and a canoe ride later, they fall madly in love again. We then learn that Noah, now aged and infirm, is reading his notebook to Allie in an attempt to jog her memory, severely impaired by Alzheimer's disease, and, miraculously, he succeeds, much to the amazement of the hospital staff. There is something suspect about a romantic relationship that reaches its acme when one of the partners is in the throes of dementia, but then, this is well within the confines of the romance genre--love conquers all, even Alzheimer's, leaving the medical experts (and this reviewer) confounded.

Ok, so I had this book for so long, I don't even have a clue where I picked it up from. I'd seen the movie as a new release & just bawled like a baby through the whole thing. I guess I was expecting more sappiness & tears while I read the book. Working with so many people with Alzheimer's currently, I was in the mood to read something like this. I hate to say it was disappointing. Since when has anyone ever liked the movie MORE than the book??? I just found the book way too condensed for my liking. Yes, a great story, but the movie provided more detail. It was a quick & easy read though & I'd recommend it, if for some reason you haven't seen the movie. My very first Sparks novel ever...which led me to read another.

Finished: sometime in August
White Oleander by Janet Fitch, 496 pages

Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery-but their idyll is shattered when Astrids mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison. White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrids journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances. Each home is its own universe, with a new set of laws and lessons to be learned. With determination and humour, Astrid confronts the challenges of loneliness and poverty, and strives to learn who a motherless child in an indifferent world can be. Tough, irrepressible, funny, and warm, Astrid is one of the most indelible characters in recent fiction. White Oleander is an unforgettable story of mothers and daughters, burgeoning sexuality, the redemptive powers of art, and the unstoppable force of the emergent self.

This book was very, very good. I know its Leanne's favourite & I think this might have been one of the books I picked up in Fort McMurray in June (I can't even remember now!). The main character is so lovely & even though a lot of the places she ends up are overexaggerated & a bit cliche, that doesn't matter. It was such an interesting book with interesting characters.

Finished: sometime in July

July 9th, 2007

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland, 272 pages

Liz Dunn isn't morbid, she's just a lonely woman with a very pragmatic outlook on life. Overweight, underemployed, and living in a nondescript condo with nothing but chocolate pudding in the fridge, she has pretty much given up on anything interesting ever happening to her. Everything changes when she gets an unexpected phone call from a Vancouver hospital and a stranger takes on a very intimate place in her life. From here the plot of Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby skyrockets into a very bizarre world, rife with reverse sing-alongs and apocalyptic visions of frantic farmers. The style and plot paths are very identifiably Coupland--slightly mystical, off-kilter, and very, very smart. Ultimately a novel about the burden of loneliness, Eleanor Rigby takes its characters through strange and sometimes nearly unimaginable predicaments.

The book I was reading before I left for Alberta. I was so disappointed to have forgotten it. I MUST now read more Douglas Coupland. This is only the second book of his I've read & I totally LOVE him already. He's easily one of my favourite authors already. I won't give away any of the story, the description says enough. ;)

Now let me try to keep this journal updated! I can't believe I've only completed an average of one book a month. Must. Read. More.

Finished: July 02nd, 2007.
Forever by Judy Blume, 216 pages

"Going all the way" is still a taboo subject in young adult literature. Judy Blume was the first author to write candidly about a sexually active teen, and she's been defending teenagers' rights to read about such subjects ever since. Here, Blume tells a convincing tale of first love--a love that seems strong and true enough to last forever. Katherine loves Michael so much, in fact, that she's willing to lose her virginity to him, and, as the months go by, it gets harder and harder for her to imagine living without him. However, something happens when they are separated for the summer: Katherine begins to have feelings for another guy. What does this mean about her love for Michael? What does this mean about love in general? What does "forever" mean, anyway? As always, Blume writes as if she's never forgotten a moment of what it's like to be a teenager.

I believe this is one of the few Judy Blume books I hadn't read as a teen. I needed something to read when I was travelling through Alberta in June. I found it in a thrift shop in Fort McMurray (along with a few others that made my light bag HEAVY)& figured it would be a very easy read where I didn't have to think at all...a good book for reading under a lot of travelling distractions. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it as a kid, but for now...well, you know. Its a Judy Blume book!

Finished: June 24th, 2007.
Settlers of the Marsh by Frederick Philip Grove, 280 pages

Settlers of the Marsh was first published in 1925, after a struggle by the author to persuade publishers that his first novel would meet public acceptance. Some critics immediately condemned this hypnotic story of the loss of innocence on the Manitoba frontier, calling it “obscene” and “indecent.” Churches issued warnings to their congregations to avoid its scandalous contents. Only several decades later was Settlers of the Marsh recognized for what it is – a landmark in the development of the Canadian novel, and a work of realism in the tradition of Thomas Hardy.

A psychological portrait of life in the Canadian West, Settlers of the Marsh presents with chilling accuracy the hopes, passions, and anxieties of young pioneers.

I found this book at a thrift shop for 10 cents. I always look through the Canadian literature & the fact that this was so scandalous back in the day caught my attention. Of course I loved this! It reminded me of my childhood love of the Little House on the Prairie books, but a love story - in a way. I just got lost in the characters.

Finished: sometime in May
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, 272 pages

Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York.

Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!).

Its no secret that I am in love with Frank McCourt. I actually read this book in the super large print edition so it was SO big & thick with hardly any words on each page. ;) When I bought it last year through Doubleday, this was the only copy they had. Hahah. I would read anything Mr. McCourt has to say. I love, love, love him & there was really not much of a good description of the book to be found. He was a teacher. He is a man. That is what the book is about.

Finished: sometime in April (I haven't been updating...obviously)

March 25th, 2007

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, 336 pages

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

This was a quick read, a sweet story I've had for ages & just got around to reading it! I finished it last Sunday, so figured I'd update about now. Its one of those coming of age dramatic character novels that I like so much. If you're into those, you'll like it too.

(I've been reading Teacher Man since I finished this. I am still in love with Frank McCourt!)

Finished: March 18th, 2007.
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